Cutting Guides

Among the tools you might find in a traditional Japanese toolbox are block gauges or cutting guides. These are small wood or steel blocks that help start a saw cutting at the proper angle, see Fig. 12. I like using them with Japanese saws, and they can be a big help with western saws, too.

I have two sets of blocks in my toolbox -one for cutting miters and dovetails in V2"-thick stock and another for cutting both joints in W-thick stock. (Note: Each guide can be used for only one thickness of stock.)

One block in each set guides cuts for 45' and 90', see photo. The second block guides 10° cuts for making dovetails, see Fig. 12.1 made the guide blocks from oak. but any dense-grained hardwood would work well.

making the guides. To make a set of guide blocks, start out with a 12"-long piece of stock. lW-thick, and 2"-wide. The length is longer than you need for two blocks, but the extra length makes it safer to cut the grooves and angles.

First, cut three grooves to fit over the edge of a workpiece. To do this, set the dado blade for the thickness of the stock you will be working on (for example. ^4").

The next step is to cut the piece into guide blocks with angled sides. To do this, I used the table saw. First, for the 45790' guide, tilt the blade to 45' and make a cut close to one end, see Fig. 13. Then set the blade back to 90° and make a cut 2" from the first. Next, to cut the dovetail block, reset the blade for 10' and then make two parallel cuts about 2" apart. (Aguide with two parallel angled sides will let you cut both angles of the tails and pins by just turning the guide block around.)

using the guides. To use a guide block.

CENTER GROOVES on sides set the groove in the block over the edge of the workpiece where you want to makeacut. You can clamp the cutting guide to the work-piece. or just hold the block in place as you saw, see Fig 12,

Now start your cut, keeping the saw blade flush against the block until the kerf is well-established. Then you can remove the block, or keep it there to complete the cut if your saw blade is wide enough.

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